Auckland public transport projects to be fast-tracked - Simon Bridges
Public transport projects are to be brought forward to address Auckland's traffic woes.
It comes as a new report puts the cost of congestion in the city between $1.3 and $1.9 billion a year.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges admits they need to start fast-tracking some of the ventures set out in the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP).
"Yes, we're looking to bring projects forward," Mr Bridges told Newshub on Thursday.
"The population of Auckland has grown faster than we anticipated, and the Government and Council are looking at how those projects might shuffle forward."
Mr Bridges says he's waiting on an updated ATAP report with new population growth estimates before choosing which projects to expedite.
Meanwhile, youth lobby group Generation Zero is praising the move. Regional director Leroy Beckett says public transport is the future of Auckland.
"Light rail is a huge priority for the city, rail to the Airport, the North Western bus-way - they're all projects that allow us to move a huge amount of people really efficiently."
However, Greens transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter is sceptical of Mr Bridges' announcement.
"We're eight weeks out from an election and they're realising their approach to transport hasn't worked," she told Newshub.
"I do wonder if we can really trust the National Government to deliver - given their poor track record."
Ms Genter points to the $1.85 billion East-West link, a motorway project being fast-tracked by the Government, as an example of bad transport spending.
"It came out of nowhere, it's expensive, it has a very poor business case and it's not going to make a big difference to congestion."
Mr Beckett agrees that the East-West link is a bad idea.
"The money that's being spent on the East-West link would be far better used investing in light rail, bus-ways and cycling projects that'll actually reduce congestion," he said.
However, Mr Bridges argues a mix of more roads and public transport is what's needed.
He says disliking roads like the East-West Link is a "trendy view on the left", helped by misinformation and "tittle tattle in the media".
"[Roading] projects such as the Waterview Connection make a real difference in decreasing congestion," he said.
"We'll see that with other projects like the City Rail Link, the East-West link and some other significant local roading projects as well."